Itzhak Perlman

Jascha Heifetz Tests Itzhak Perlman’s Skills

In this excerpt from American Masters — Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler (2015), Itzhak Perlman reminisces about his first encounter as a teenager with the world-famous violinist Jascha Heifetz. Perlman was a violin student at Juilliard and Heifetz visited to hear the 14-year-old play. After performing Symphonie Espagnole by Lalo, Perlman and his teacher Ivan Galamian thought Heifetz had heard enough. Instead, Heifetz asked Perlman to play scales for him — one of the most rudimentary exercises in training to be a musician.

“Heifetz was a great stickler for scales and exercises. He felt that scales were an indicator of what kind of solid base you had when you are playing,” says Perlman.

American Masters: Itzhak premieres nationwide Sunday, October 14 at 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and will be available to stream the following day via pbs.org/americanmasters and PBS apps.